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Telecom Co-ops Warn FCC Against Universal Service Fund Cuts

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2009 — Eliminating the high cost portion of the Universal Service Fund could endanger plans to roll broadband out to rural America, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association said Monday in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

Andrew Feinberg

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WASHINGTON, December 7, 2009 - Eliminating the high cost portion of the Universal Service Fund could endanger plans to roll broadband out to rural America, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association said Monday in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

While many groups have advocated the phasing out of the high cost program, NTCA urged the FCC to adopt its own broadband proposal in restructuring the USF.

NTCA's plan "would ensure reliable and predictable universal service support is available to deliver high-quality broadband throughout rural American," the group said.

Elimination of the high cost program would have dire consequences, NTCA said: "At best, retail rates would increase and put service out of reach of many and service quality would drop because carriers would no longer be able to fund necessary network upgrades and maintenance.  At worst, small rural ILECs would no longer be able to serve their customer base, stranding high-cost rural customers without adequate broadband coverage."

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